The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) welcomes news that the army is exploring ways to recruit more Muslims. This will be an extension of well-established efforts to increase representation from minority British communities.
BAFF Chairman, Douglas Young, said that "This isn't, and mustn't ever become, about political correctness.
We can't make anyone join but the armed forces should, as far as possible, be representative of the society which it serves. Respect for others is one of the core values of the British Army and by the same token, soldiers look to their comrades from whatever background to sign up fully to those values. BAFF welcomes serving members from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and will do whatever it can to support them."
According to the Guardian, the latest figures reveal they make up less than 1% of the total. Resistance is said to be partly due to the UK's involvement in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army is also concerned that black, Asian and other ethnic minorities are not sufficiently represented. So a recruitment drive is planned for this year, with 10 events each month across the UK aimed at these groups.
There are 480 Muslims in the Army out of an overall strength of 88,500 – 0.54%, an increase from 300 in 2008. Muslims comprise about 4.4% of the UK population according to the 2011 census.
About 9,110 members of the Army are drawn from the black, Asian and minority ethnic population. Although this amounts to about 10%, many joined from Commonwealth countries rather than from the UK.
CGS General Sir Nicholas Carter said "Our recruitment from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has been improving over the years, but it is nowhere near where it needs to be. We have to do more."
Imam Asim Hafiz OBE, Islamic adviser to the Chiefs of Staff, said diversity was one of the UK's strengths and this enhanced the military's cultural understanding and helped them when deployed. "In my view, the values of the armed forces are fully compatible with the values of Islam as well as other faiths," he said.
General Sir David Richards, the former head of the British military, told The Independent: "It is important that Muslim and, indeed, other minorities know that those in senior ranks are on their side and stand by them."
Selected media reporting on this story
- Guardian: British army aims to recruit more Muslims after worries over low numbers
- Daily Mail: Army drive for more Muslims after Paris massacre and rise of Islamic State as it's revealed just 480 are currently serving
- Sky News: British Army Seeks to Recruit More Muslim Troops
- Independent: The British Army launches drive to recruit more Muslims